Douglas Trumbull, the three-time Oscar nominated visual effects master, died on Monday, February 7, 2022. His daughter Amy announced that he passed after a two-year battle with cancer, a brain tumor, and a stroke. He was 79 years old.
Trumbull, who was born on April 8, 1942, in Los Angeles, is the son of Don Trumbull, who worked on the visual effects for The Wizard of Oz. His first visual effects work was in the documentary To the Moon and Beyond in 1964.
For his second film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Trumbull designed the tunnel of light, known as the Star Gate sequence, for the finale. After that he did special photographic effects on The Andromeda Strain.
Trumbull made the cloud formations in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (for which he earned his first Oscar nomination). For Star Trek: The Motion Picture, he created the docking sequence on the Enterprise and Spock’s spacewalk, earning his second Oscar nod. His third Oscar nomination was for Blade Runner, for which he suggested projecting images on buildings and blimps and using smoke to create depth and distance.
In 2011 he came out of retirement to work on the birth of the universe for The Tree of Life opening sequence. His final visual effects work came in 2018’s The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot.
Trumbull also directed the Sci-Fi films Silent Running and Brainstorm.
The Academy Awards gave him a Scientific and Engineering Award in ’93 for creating the Showscan Camera System. Later, the Academy honored his career achievements with a Gordon E. Sawyer Award in 2012.